Coffee heat rising

A layoff strategy

On our morning walk, La Maya asked if I have a come-back planned should Her Deanship announce, during this afternoon’s unexpected audience, that the Great Desert University intends to lay me off.

As a matter of fact, I do. Several recessions ago in a galaxy far, far away, I happened to read a magazine article whose author argued that as soon as an employer proposes to lay you off, you should immediately come back with an alternative. The theory was that you can sometimes bargain yourself into a better position, or at least gain paid or partially paid time to search for new work.

Unclear whether this idea remains operative in the more extreme conditions we’re seeing today. But nothing ventured (etc.). So, I have a couple of come-backs:

1. Her Deanship says soooo sorry, we’re laying you off. I say:
Last night on the local PBS news program, a legislator said that a string the size of a rope is attached to the stimulus package Our Beloved Governor has asked the president for. To get the stimulus money, Arizona will have to abrogate and reinstate all the outrageous cutsto higher education(well, as one of the lead budget-cutters, he didn’t use the term “outrageous,” o’course). Therefore, in the next few weeks the university’s budget will be restored and all your programs can proceed as before.

So, why don’t you cut my hours by 50%, temporarily? This would save on benefits and taxes, and half of my gross salary would cover the cost of one research assistantship—including the out-of-state tuition waiver. Then, when things are better, you can reinstate me at 100% FTE.

2. Her Deanship says that will never do! I say:
Rather than yank the College’s support out from under not one, not two, but six scholarly journals (causing bad press for GDU not just locally but nationwide that will ring through the ages like time’s endless echo), why don’t you outsource the preproduction services to me? This will save the university the cost of my salary plus taxes and benefits, remove three research assistantships and a 50% FTE assistant editor’s position, and get the job done at enormous cost savings.

Pull that one off, and The Copyeditor’s Desk has a bread-and-butter client that won’t quit. Tina and I will both be self-employed, which has its disadvantages but also has the advantage that we won’t have to schlep to campus. We can farm the work out to the graduate students on a freelance basis. While we can’t give them research assistantships, we certainly could hire one a semester as an intern, given what we would earn editing six journals plus the other work we’re doing.

Mwa ha ha! No wonder I’m an academic. I was born for this kind of bullshit!

Reviewed the financial strategy I’d already planned for the layoff eventuality. It’s going to be very tight. However, if it’s true that the stimulus package will pick up 60% of COBRA, my back vacation pay will cover COBRA until I’m eligible for Medicare, especially if the university keeps me on until the end of the fiscal year (June 30). Also, $2,400 of unemployment is now tax-free, so that means the pittance Arizona dispenses will be a slightly larger pittance.

So, I guess the main reason I’m not feeling very exercised about this development (besides the fact that I’m tired of thinking about it) is that, although it would be a major inconvenience, if they lay me off my world will not come to an end.

1 thought on “A layoff strategy”

  1. I think once you have a plan it’s just such a relief. More importantly, once you realize that the world won’t end, you can finally de-clench.

    Most of us spend so much time terrified of certain outcomes. Instead, we need to follow through, as you did: “Omigod, I might get laid off… Well, what would happen? I’d get COBRA help, I’d get some unemployment, and I have a valuable skill.” Sometimes following through on the worst-case scenario can actually be very soothing. Good job for being so thorough — and relatively calm!

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